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UN rights envoy slams Myanmar constitutional referendum as ‘surreal’
UN rights envoy slams Myanmar constitutional referendum as ‘surreal’

[JURIST] Myanmar is completely ill-prepared to hold a national constitutional referendum [JURIST report] as part of a democratic political transition, UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar Paulo Sergio Pinheiro [official profile] told Reuters in an interview Monday. Myanmar's 45-member Referendum Holding Commission announced last week that it had scheduled the planned referendum [JURIST reports] for May 10, but Pinheiro said it was "surreal" to hold a referendum while the military government continues to persecute critics of the proposed charter.

Opposition groups such as the National League for Democracy (NLD) have urged citizens to reject [JURIST report] the proposed constitution put forth by the military government, labeling the referendum a "sham" to legalize military rule. AP reported last month that the draft constitution reserves 25 percent of parliamentary seats for the military [JURIST report] and would also block pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] from seeking office. It is unclear whether the ruling junta will allow international observers of the referendum as requested by the opposition party. Reuters has more.